In all the Votwo 3 Marathon in 3 Days events, it is good to know how to use a compass, as each one is self-navigated. A compass is an essential tool for all trail marathon challenges and, combined with the route maps handed out each day, a compass helps ensure trail runners don't get lost. Here is a step by step guide to keep you on the trail. Learn to identify the basic components of your compass, take an accurate reading of your bearings, and start developing the helpful skills of navigation for all your marathon challenges.
Understand the layout
The basic field compass features a range of components you should be familiar with.
Hold the compass correctly
Place the compass flat on your palm and your hand in front of your body so that the magnetised needle floats within the casing.
Take a bearing on the map
You need to know where you are and where you would like to go. Preparing the route bearings before a trail event is vital if you are unfamiliar with the terrain. You may have to take different bearings for each stage and make a note of where they change to stay on course.
Step 1: Line the left or right edge of your compass against the start and finish points of each stage, making sure that the direction of travel arrow is going from A-B.
Step 2: Turn the compass bevel until the north orienting lines on the bevel plate match up with the north/south grid lines on the map. The degree that lines up with the direction of travel arrow is your bearing for this stage.
Step 3: Rotate yourself with the compass in hand until the North on the needle lines up with the North on the bevel. You are now facing your bearing and can follow the direction of travel arrow.
Which way are you facing?
It is important to keep an eye on your heading to know that you are following your bearing as any change will quickly alert you to a wrong turn taken.
Step 1: Hold the compass in front of you with the direction of travel arrow facing away from you.
Step 2: Turn the rotating bevel until the orienting lines and the N line up with the magnetic needle. Find the direction you are facing by looking at the part of the degree dial on the rotating bevel that lines up with the direction of travel arrow. If it intersects at 040, you are facing 40 degrees North East.
Step 3: You can triangulate your position on the map by taking bearings from useful navigational points. Take a bearing from yourself to two points in the distance which appear on your map. Place the compass on the map with a side on the navigational point and line up the bearing. Draw a line in pencil on your map. Repeat this with your second point. The point where the lines cross gives you a rough idea of where you are on the map.
While physical and mental training for a 3 marathon in 3 day event are tantamount, becoming familiar with the gear you are going to be using is also important. Knowing it is comfortable, durable, and fully functional is as important as knowing your mind and body are up to the task too. During your training, take your compass out and practice navigating so that you are happy using the compass once you enter the unfamiliar terrain of a new trail challenge.